Whether you were the primary wage earner in your relationship, you relied on your spouse’s income to live comfortably, or you and your spouse shared responsibility for funding the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed, getting divorced will have an impact on your finances. But, how much of an impact depends on a number of different factors, and there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you will be able to maintain your lifestyle after your divorce.
When it comes to maintaining your financial lifestyle, the primary factors at play in the divorce process are: (i) the distribution of your shared assets, and (ii) the calculation of alimony. If you have children, child support and other child-related expenses (such as extracurricular activities and college tuition) will be relevant as well, although likely to a lesser extent than the two issues noted above.
Protecting Your Assets During Your Divorce
First, let’s talk about protecting your assets. Under New Jersey law, the general rule is that each spouse is entitled to an “equitable” share of a couple’s marital property. Factors to be considered in determining what is equitable include:
- Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions during the marriage;
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances t the time of their divorce;
- The debts to be assumed by each spouse as a result of the divorce;
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage; and,
- The tax implications of a proposed distribution or liquidation.
But, even once you determine your equitable share, this only gets you so far. Then, the question becomes: Which specific assets should comprise your equitable share? The answer to this question is largely up to you (and your negotiations with your spouse); and, when deciding which assets to prioritize in your negotiations, maintaining your lifestyle is certainly something you will want to keep in mind. The more thought and effort you put into your marital property distribution, the better the outcome of the process is likely to be, and the more comfortable you will be as you transition into your post-divorce life.
So, what assets are most important to you when it comes to maintaining your lifestyle? Many divorcing spouses will choose to prioritize assets such as:
- The family home
- A beach house or vacation property
- One or more cars, boats, or other vehicles
- Retirement and non-retirement investment accounts
- Airline miles and other benefits
When it comes to protecting your assets in a divorce, it is also important to remember the distinction between separate and marital property. While marital property is subject to equitable distribution, any assets that qualify as your separate property are yours to keep regardless of any equitable considerations.
Protecting Your Income During Your Divorce
Now, let’s talk about alimony. Whether you are expecting to pay or receive alimony, the calculation of support owed could have a substantial impact on your post-divorce income. Additionally, the tax laws regarding alimony are changing for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, and these changes are likely to have a major influence on both spouses’ approaches to alimony negotiations.
While New Jersey law requires consideration of a number of factors – including standard of living – when calculating alimony, there are no specific guidelines for spousal support, and taking a strategic and proactive approach can go great lengths toward ensuring your long-term financial stability.
Speak with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Hackensack, NJ
Do you have questions about what you can do to maintain your lifestyle after getting divorced in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact us for an initial case evaluation. To speak with one of our experienced divorce lawyers in confidence, please call (201) 430-7845 or request an appointment online today.